On the Future of Content: An Interview with Steve Rayson of BuzzSumo
If you’ve never used BuzzSumo, you’re missing out. BuzzSumo is one of the best content discovery and improvement tools available, offering a range of insights into social performance, influencers and backlink data - there’s a heap of ways you can utilize BuzzSumo’s many data points to get in-depth, actionable measures to improve your content process.
This week, the man behind BuzzSumo, Steve Rayson, is launching a new app called Anders Pink, which provides detailed overviews of the latest news from your chosen networks.
And it already has some big name fans.
I recently spoke to Steve about the new app, the success of BuzzSumo, and his thoughts on the content marketing landscape. As you might expect, Steve offered some great insights – here’s a summary of our chat.
The Growth of BuzzSumo
First up, on BuzzSumo – the app earned $2.5 million in annual revenue in its first full year, with more than 160,000 users. I asked Steve about the key lessons he’s learned from the app’s growth.
“I think the key’s been focusing on a specific task, such as content research,” Steve said. “It’s very tempting to add lots of new features, such as sharing, scheduling, planning and creation tools - and we’ve been guilty of some of this. However, I think the key to a successful app is focusing on helping users to do a specific task quickly and easily.”
This is great point, and you can see why some companies look to add in a wider range of new features and tools to expand their horizons. But there’s something to be said for doing the core elements well.
“BuzzSumo helps our users see what content is resonating and why, starting a simple search,” Steve noted.
BuzzSumo content search in action
That said, the growth of BuzzSumo is obviously aligned with the growth of content marketing more widely – I asked Steve if he has any concerns about us reaching a content saturation point, or the impact of ‘content shock’, as flagged by expert Mark Schaefer.
“I personally think we’re only in the early stages,” Steve said. “The volume of content published will increase significantly as the internet population grows, and as creation tools get easier from video to writing.”
But still, in that, Steve notes that we will see increased focus, which may narrow content scope and efforts to appeal to a wide audience.
“We’re going to have to get better at filtering out content that’s relevant and important to us.”
The Future of Content
As content marketing grows, and more publishers look to produce more content, the competition for attention is also heating up, and bigger players in the market will always have more resources and more capacity to hone in and produce more focused content. I asked Steve how he thinks this will impact smaller, lower volume publishers and their content reach.
“I think this is a key challenge,” Steve agreed. “Large publishers have big audiences and the money to promote their content. It’ll become increasingly hard to reach audiences, particularly as social channels become more pay to play.”
Steve says that the way to overcome this lies in providing content that people simply can’t get anywhere else.
“The key will be relentlessly creating unique and valuable content. Building an audience takes time and you need to find a specific niche where you can compete.”
That word – ‘niche’ seems to be a key theme here, focusing on a very specific market and working to boost your appeal by being the specialist in that area.
Another element I was interested to get Steve’s take on is automation. In September last year, Steve published a blog post in which he suggested that the key to success in content marketing could lie in publishing more content, not less, citing some big publishers – and their use of automated systems to produce content – as examples:
“The Washington Post now publishes around 1,200 posts a day. That is an incredible amount of content. My initial reaction when I read the statistic was ‘surely that is too much, the quality will suffer, why produce so much content?’ The answer seems to be that it works.”
The post sparked a lot of conversation in content marketing circles, and no doubt a lot of concern in the minds of content creators. Given this, I asked Steve whether he thought the robots are coming to take over content jobs.
“No, I don't think so, but I suspect we’ll see a huge increase in automated content – i.e. content written by robots and algorithms. These tools will become increasingly available to all internet users in the coming years and my fear is they’ll be abused in much the same way as automated sharing tools have been.”
This, again, will make it harder for content marketers to get their message out, with an increasing amount of noise to cut through. What the actual impact of automated content bots will be is impossible to say, but it’ll be interesting to see how such systems will work, and how they’ll change the process.
As noted, Steve’s been working on a new app called Anders Pink for some time, and it functions as a daily briefing, based on a range of customizable filters and tools.
I asked Steve where he sees the new tool fitting into the content process and what it can add for creators and publishers.
“If you want to create unique and valuable content, you really need to be an expert or very knowledgeable about your field,” Steve said. “Our new app is about keeping individuals and teams briefed and updated on developments in their industry.”
As noted, the tool provides a range of customizable filter options to hone in your data, which Steve elaborated on further:
“It allows you to filter out relevant content from the millions of articles published every day. You can use domains, RSS feeds, Twitter lists and other sources, and then filter by keywords, or filter all of the content published using advanced keywords.”
“The aim,” Steve noted, “is to help people get briefed each day and stay smart.”
Given the success of BuzzSumo, and Steve’s knowledge and experience in the field, it’s certainly worth a look.
In finishing up our conversation, I asked Steve for one tip, one top piece of advice he’d give for creating effective content.
“This is more than one tip, but my advice would be focus on a niche.”
Again, that word comes up – honing in your efforts, becoming a leader in a defined field.
“Become an expert in that niche, read everything you can and then regularly and consistently create unique content that adds value to your users. You also need to amplify your content - but everything starts with the quality of the content itself.”
Some great notes here from a man with deep knowledge of the field. It’s worth paying attention and considering the lessons Steve outlines in his tips.
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